When performance trumps choreography

Kelly Sneddon is a member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet celebrates its 18th anniversary this season. Desmond Richardson, the dancer who co-founded the group with choreographer Dwight Rhoden, has left the stage, but a new crop of fine performers carries on. They’re marvelously diverse, young and strong and sassy.

Rhoden celebrates the dancers’ style and reveals their personalities. The troupe’s  Joyce season showcases a new work, “Memories,” by Camille A. Brown, who blends modern technique with hip-hop phrasing. Her duet to on-stage guitarist Nick Demopoulos’ improvisations is barely more than a sketch, but it harbors more authentic feeling than the hours of Rhoden’s contortionate work surrounding it.

Rhoden displays his prize crop of movers in hazy light, the men bare-chested, the women wearing snug leotards, their legs bare. In his recent “The Curve,” he feverishly invents new moves to a collage of sound by many musicians; the result is incoherent eye candy.

Rhoden’s 2004 “Pretty Gritty Suite,” to songs of Nina Simone, shows him at his best: deploying a large cast in brief variations, often with rhythmic accompaniment from both the soundtrack and the onstage performers. These artists warm us as winter arrives.

If you go
   
Complexions
Through Nov. 25
Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Ave.
$10-$69, 212-242-0800
www.joyce.org


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